Urinary incontinence is more common as we age, especially among women. It’s unclear exactly how common incontinence is, and it’s believed that incontinence goes underreported because many older adults think it’s a normal, unmanageable part of aging. It’s also likely that the embarrassing nature of incontinence causes many older adults to keep the symptoms and issues to themselves.
While incontinence isn’t a serious medical condition, it’s unpleasant and can have an impact on quality of life, social engagement, and mental health. The good news is that it can often be prevented or controlled, and when it can’t, incontinence supplies can help older adults continue to go about their days normally. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover incontinence supplies like adult diapers. Medicare may cover some incontinence treatments. The causes of incontinence can help determine the right treatment plan and medical coverage.
Many things can cause incontinence. When incontinence lasts only for a short period, it’s often caused by:
When incontinence lasts for a longer period, there are many potential causes, including:
Determining the cause of incontinence is important for developing the best treatment plan.
The first step to managing incontinence is consulting a doctor. Your doctor will help you determine the cause and best treatment plan.
Oftentimes, a combination of multiple treatments and supplies can help you manage incontinence and improve your quality of life.
Bladder Control Training
Bladder control training involves physical and mental exercises that make it easier to “hold it” and get to the bathroom in time. Three common exercises are:
Behavioral and lifestyle changes
Some dietary changes like quitting smoking and limiting caffeine and alcohol can help reduce incontinent episodes. Limiting liquids before bed can support nighttime incontinence. Clearing the path to your bathroom at home and being aware of where the nearest bathroom is when you’re out are other small changes you can make to ensure you get to the bathroom on time.
When bladder control training and lifestyle changes aren’t enough, medical treatments can sometimes alleviate the burden of incontinence. Medical treatments may include:
Even with the best combination of treatments, you may still experience some incontinent episodes—or be afraid they could occur. In these instances, bladder control products like absorbent underwear, disposable underwear or diapers, and pads can help you feel confident to go about your day without a public episode.
Does Medicare cover adult diapers?
Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not cover incontinence supplies and adult diapers. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits that Original Medicare does not cover, but you’ll have to check your specific plan to understand how coverage works for incontinence supplies.
Does Medicare cover catheters?
Original Medicare (and Medicare Advantage) sometimes cover catheters and catheter-related supplies for incontinence if deemed medically necessary. Before getting your catheter inserted, speak with your doctor and check your specific insurance benefits to be sure your catheter will be covered.
Does Medicare cover incontinence drugs?
Original Medicare does not have any prescription drug coverage. Part D coverage through a stand-alone prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage can include drug treatments for incontinence. When discussing incontinence drug treatment with your doctor, check your prescription drug plan's list of covered drugs to ensure coverage.
While Medicare doesn’t cover all incontinence supplies and treatments, it’s important for you to bring any issues with incontinence up with your doctor to discuss the best treatment plan. Your doctor can offer guidance on any medical issues that may be causing your incontinence—as well as bladder control training, lifestyle changes, and medications you can take to manage your incontinence. If you ever have any questions about your Medicare coverage, we’re here to help! Our team of Medicare advisors is here to help you get the most value out of Medicare, whether that means explaining your options, helping you choose the right plan for your needs, or using your benefits.